WASHINGTON – Rep. Charles Boustany has opted against challenging Sen. Mary Landrieu in her Senate re-election bid next year.
Boustany, R-Lafayette, originally was not named frequently as a top contender for the GOP bid to challenge the Louisiana Democrat. But last month, Boustany said he would “take a good look at” the race, after he said he received encouragement to run during Washington Mardi Gras festivities.
In a prepared statement, Boustany’s spokesman Neal Patel said Boustany was honored to receive the support for a potential Senate bid, but that he is committed to serving the 3rd Congressional District of Louisiana.
In December, Boustany won re-election by defeating fellow incumbent Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, by more than 20 percentage points in a runoff race. The campaign was the most expensive U.S. House race in state history.
Pearson Cross, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette political science department chairman, originally said he was a “bit surprised” Boustany was considering the Senate run. On Monday, Cross said it “makes sense” to stay where he is for now.
“He’s got enough seniority that he’s starting to rise in the ranks of (House) Republicans,” Cross said. “If he doesn’t win (in the Senate race), he loses his job.”
Boustany chairs the oversight subcommittee of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee and he is generally considered a friend and ally of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Reps. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, and John Fleming, R-Minden, are openly flirting with running against Landrieu, as is Landry and Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education President Chas Roemer, who is the son of former Gov. Buddy Roemer and also a Republican.
Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne confirmed last week he is at least “pondering” a U.S. Senate bid, but he also is looking closely at running for governor in 2015.
Among Landrieu’s potential challengers, Cassidy is leading the way in raising money, with more than $2 million in the bank at the end of the year. Landrieu, D-La., by comparison, has more than $2.5 million.
After a costly U.S. House race last year, Cross said Boustany likely realized he would have to campaign and raise funds virtually non-stop to defeat Landrieu after almost depleting his campaign account last year.
Cross said Boustany would have to raise almost $15,000 a day for what likely will end up as a roughly $20 million or so Senate race.